The Nithsdale Area Committee met on Wednesday to consider lowering the town’s remaining 30 mph limited roads, citing increased safety, reduced carbon emissions and fewer road-related casualties and injuries in favour of the change.
At the meeting Anthony Topping, team leader of the council’s network strategy and road safety, said: “Communities in the region, being represented by locally elected members, have made it clear that they prefer 20 mph speed limits without physical traffic calming features where appropriate.
“In accordance with the council plan 2017-2020, we must make decisions and work with our communities in achieving positive change and delivering our ambitions.
“July 2020 results show that whilst the existing speed limit of 30 mph is largely being adhered to by the vast majority of motorists, the majority of recorded mean speeds were over 24 mph.”
However, he added: “Police Scotland were of the opinion that the proposed reduction to a 20 mph speed limit, without any physical traffic calming measures, would simply see a high level of non-compliance and calls for enforcement action.
“It would therefore be the case that more motorists would be travelling above the posted limit rather than under it, which is not the case with the existing 30mph speed limit.
“Overall the mean speed results from August 2020 show that the implementation of a temporary 20mph speed limit in the town centre is capable of achieving mean speeds around 20mph.”
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth, who is also Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman, welcomed the proposals, saying: “I have been a long-standing supporter of the ‘20’s plenty’ campaign and when a member’s bill came before the Scottish Parliament recently that would have made 20 mph the new default position rather than 30 mph, I gave it my full backing.
“I was very disappointed that the Scottish Government didn’t back that bill and it was defeated. As it is, it’s been left to local councils to decide, so I welcome any move by Dumfries and Galloway Council to expand 20 mph zones.
“However, I would like them to go even further than just Dumfries town centre. Many of our schools have 20 mph zones, but this should be expanded to cover the whole neighbourhood near the school. Why have 20 mph next to a school but not next to the play park around the corner?
“There are a whole host of benefits of 20 mph zones. Ultimately, they save lives. If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle at 20mph they have a 97 per cent chance of survival, but just 10mph faster means the survival chance drops to 92 per cent, all for the sake of someone arriving somewhere slightly earlier.”
Councillors this week agreed to proceed to advertising and implementation of the new limit, which will initially be trialled for 18 months.